INTRODUCING: The Blancpain Bathyscaphe Titanium is a sexy beast of a dive watch INTRODUCING: The Blancpain Bathyscaphe Titanium is a sexy beast of a dive watch

INTRODUCING: The Blancpain Bathyscaphe Titanium is a sexy beast of a dive watch

D.C Hannay

Fifty Fathoms.  It’s a reference to an antiquated British unit of measure of approximately 91 and a half metres, but in the realm of horology, it’s synonymous with one of the first (along with Rolex’s Submariner) purpose-built dive watches, and its history is long and storied. First introduced in 1953, the original Blancpain Fifty Fathoms addressed the practical requests of the French military, with its water resistance, rotating timing bezel, and luminous radium dial markers. A decidedly utilitarian diver’s watch, the Fifty Fathoms has since evolved into a full-fledged line for Blancpain, with a dizzying array of variants since. 

In 1956, Blancpain released a trimmer, more refined edition of the Fifty Fathoms, dubbed the Bathyscaphe, after Auguste Piccard’s deep-water submersible. With a small (by modern standards) 34mm steel case and bakelite bezel, the Bathyscaphe went easily from waterborne duty to more dressed-up affairs, and its size meant it wore effortlessly for women as well as men. But alas, it wasn’t meant to last, and the model slipped from the Blancpain catalogue as quickly as it came.

Fast forward to 2013, when Blancpain reintroduced the Bathyscaphe marque to the product line, where it has evolved and flourished ever since, with a number of different case sizes, dials, and more exotic materials (such as ceramic) on offer. Which leads us to the newest member of the family, the Bathyscaphe Titanium. And what a swoon-worthy piece it is. Dear God, it is, to crib the title of Ray Winstone’s finest cinematic work, one Sexy Beast.

To call the Bathyscaphe Titanium simply a dive watch is vastly selling it short. This timepiece occupies the rarefied air of what I call superluxe tool watches, those pieces that offer the ultimate in fit and finishing comparable to the finest dress watches, yet retain all the robust build quality and real-world capability of purpose-built diving instruments. It’s got all the menace of a secret agent dressed in fully bespoke black tie.

What makes this edition different from Bathyscaphes that have come before? It’s in the name. Fully crafted in the notoriously difficult-to-work Grade 23 titanium, this is an all-new animal, lithe and sleek, both lighter and stronger than its steel counterparts. Good thing, too, since the satin-finished case is a fairly significant 43mm in diameter, mitigated by the surprisingly trim 13.45mm case depth. That’s a tribute to the watchmakers at Blancpain, considering the watch features a very capable 300 metres of water resistance, a sapphire display back, and a 35-jewel movement with a five-day power reserve and a date complication. Despite the size, this one won’t weigh you down, even with the matching titanium bracelet (also available with a matching anthracite sailcloth strap or what’s perhaps the world’s nicest NATO). 

Moving on to the dial, it’s a stunner in a titanium-matching anthracite colour, with a handcrafted vertical satin finish that just loves to play with the light. There’s a beautifully finished date window at 4:30, with a colour-matched date wheel that’s there when you need it, disappearing into the monochromatic ether when you don’t. The applied dial indices and baton hands are generously lumed, as befits a dive watch, as well as the lollipop seconds, which features a bright jolt of red at the tip. It’s the only interruption in an otherwise serene landscape, reminding your inner super-spy that the clock, as they say, is ticking. Keeping track of the seconds as you snip the wires of that bomb that’s about to explode is made that much easier with the 60-minute one-way bezel, in matching anthracite ceramic and Liquidmetal™. 

Blancpain Bathyscaphe Titanium

Taking a look under the hood, you’ll find the in-house Calibre 1315 movement beating at a frequency of 4 Hz behind that sapphire caseback. As well as the five-day power reserve, the self-winding movement is highly anti-magnetic, sporting a silicon balance spring that should render your timepiece impervious to any nefarious EMPs. The finish work of the movement is first-rate with detailed touches such as snailed and chamfered bridges, and a sandblasted, satin-finished gold oscillating weight. The whole affair checks in at around five-and-a-half mm thick, fairly svelte for a watch with such bona fide capability.

Blancpain Bathyscaphe Titanium

The new Blancpain Bathyscaphe Titanium is the latest twist on a legendary formula, and taken as a whole, it feels, as they say, “of a piece” in all its exquisitely finished monochromatic glory.

Blancpain Bathyscaphe Titanium pricing and availability:

The Blancpain Bathyscaphe Titanium is available now via Blancpain and authorised dealers. Price: $14,100 USD